As I’ve said before, I hate gender stereotyping but, once again, I’d be foolish to not acknowledge the trends respectively belonging to the men and women who come to my office. Sidebar: What’s written here is not the truth for all couples and the preferences listed can easily be reversed in terms of gender. Also, these preferences might apply to LGBTQ relationships in similar or different ways.
What Women Want
Researchers from East Carolina University have discovered that women are not choosing their men in terms of their ability to provide money or children. Instead, qualities such as consideration, dependability, and intelligence are current measuring sticks (O’reilly, Knox, & Zusman, 2009). Here’s what the women in my office have said about what they want in a man.
1. “Please express what you are feeling!”
This is an age-old tale, is it not? How many women maintain that their men simply don’t express their emotions? Gents, your emotions won’t kill you so set them free. …and if this helps at all, you might enjoy knowing that expressing your emotions does not mean “losing your sh&*t” and balling in front of the entire free world. Instead, you can express your emotions by simply using words. How about that, huh? For example, sentences like “I’m a little frustrated right now,” or “I’m angry, I need a sec” will do the trick.
2. “Communicate the small things too!”
Women would love their men to communicate the little things, too. For example …can’t pick up the kids, or couldn’t get the milk, or need to reschedule the bank appointment? How about trying to communicate this info in a reasonable amount of time? It just might save you both from having a little conflict.
3. “Stop avoiding things (i.e. don’t be scared to hurt my feelings)!”
Some women voice that their men attempt to avoid conversations that can potentially result in hurt feelings. I have heard, countless times, that women simply want truth regardless of the consequences involved. For example, if you really don’t want to hang out with her friends tonight, just say so! Avoiding or procrastinating on giving an answer will result in more hurt than simply telling her the truth.
4. “Can you be (a bit) more organized?”
One of my friends lovingly calls his wife the CEO of the household. In a lot of ways this is appreciative and endearing. However, women often wish their man would be more organized by contributing to family planning and being aware special event dates without being reminded. Not hard guys…just acknowledge and contribute to the calendar more often.
5. “A small gesture of appreciation can go a very long way!”
I’ve recently heard many women say, “I really don’t need flowers, but a kind gesture would be nice.” I know some guys feel pressured to bring home flowers but, in truth, there are so many ways to display appreciation, affection, encouragement, or kindness. Essentially, just spontaneously saying words like, “I appreciate you babe,” or “Thanks for that,” or “We make a great team, don’t we,” can go such a long way!
What Men Want
Spanish researchers, Monteoliva et al. (2012), have referenced the fact that men and women are socialized to perceive and behave differently in their relationships. Let’s see what the men in my office have said about what they want from their women.
1. “Please don’t freak out when I do express my preferences, thoughts, and emotions!”
Okay ladies, now you’re in the hot seat. You say that you want your men to express their emotions, but how do you react when they do just that? Unfortunately, if you have a tendency to react with grandiosity in the face of something relatively benign, your man will not want to express his true feelings with you. You are definitely entitled to your emotions, but please ensure that your reactions are not disproportionate to the situation presented. For example, if the reason he does not want to attend tonight’s casual dinner with friends is because he’s genuinely tired or innocently wants to stay in, can you be okay with that? Well, you need to be.
2. “I don’t take care of things exactly like you, please be ok with that!”
A lot of women seem to enjoy things done their way. Ladies are often caregivers and believe that have cracked the code on drawing baths, or making lunches, or cooking healthy meals. I get it, ladies…you’ve done a lot of field work and have finally obtained ideal results in doing things a certain way. But…have you perhaps been a bit rigid in your ways? If your man does not match your toddler’s outfit very well or did not comb their hair the way you see fit, can you leave room for that? Your men are not committing crimes and, instead, are simply doing things differently. Please be open to this!
3. “Please be patient and do not put pressure on me!”
Ladies, pressuring your man into doing all the things you want him to do in an immediate fashion will get you both in trouble. In the same way that he must take your needs into consideration, you must take his needs into consideration. Often times, the man is the avoider and the woman is the pursuer. Ideally, the man must reduce his avoidant behavior, yes, but the woman also has a part to play, and that means backing-off a little bit. It’s the perfect compromise. He can’t avoid forever and you can’t relentlessly be ‘up in his face.’ IOW, he evades less and you back off a little bit – it’s a great middle ground!
4. “Don’t hide what you need from me until you explode!”
Women often times feel guilty expressing what they need. They thereby withhold what they truly need from their men, yielding resentment, anger, or passive-aggressivity in these very women. Ladies, there is no need to feel guilty expressing what you need and receiving what you need. You are deserving of all good things, as is your man and your relationship, so please stop self-sacrificing and bypassing your needs.
5. “You and I might show our love differently!”
A concept that would set all of us free is the notion that everybody shows their love differently. One person might use affection to show love, while another person might write a greeting card to express love. I often hear women complain about not receiving enough affection from their men. Now if this does not meet your relationship conditions, you are allowed to leave the relationship. However, if his lack of affection is not a deal-breaker for you and you wish to stay in the relationship, note that not all people love in the same way. Your affectionate hug might equate his daily phone call from work. You might fix his computer and he might cook you an elaborate meal. Just because someone does not show love exactly like you, does not mean they don’t love you. Awesome words to live by, I think.